On Rearrangement: ‘You Belong Here: Place, People, and Purpose in Latinx Photography’

Written by
Monica Huerta, Artforum; Department of English
Nov. 3, 2023

The word cast arms open and outstretched, signaling recognition and an offer that does not presume the addressee is a hugger: You belong here. Heard in a slightly different register, it’s an insistence in addition to an affirmation, as though someone else has said otherwise — a someone the words don’t need to mention, a someone the speaker and “you” together do not allow to set the terms. Or, there might not be a reason to say the words except in the way an ocean greets sand, one beloved to another beloved living in its meaning. In any case, and though received differently depending on where and how you stand in the world, in the gallery we’re overhearing a conversation whose coordinates might be in the middle of being rearranged.

“You Belong Here: Place, People, and Purpose in Latinx Photography” is organized by Pilar Tompkins Rivas, chief curator and deputy director of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art (opening in Los Angeles in 2025) and guest editor of the special issue of Aperture magazine on which the exhibition is based. Previously at the Princeton University Art Museum, “You Belong Here” opened last month at the Michael C. Carlos Museum in Atlanta. The work on view, writes Rivas, seeks to “take a broader perspective on the Latinx archive across time” in ways that are “relevant to the processes of visibility and belonging that are not fixed but ever evolving.” The show brings together artists from distinct communities and artistic traditions while not aspiring toward definitiveness or full “arrival.” Arlene Dávila, founding director of the Latinx Project and New York University professor of American studies and anthropology, builds on persistent calls for attention to how Latinx art itself has been a vexed category for traditional art history and the art market alike.

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